Small cell carcinoma of the kidney: A clinicopathologic study of 14 cases

Qiusheng Si, Jane Dancer, Melissa L. Stanton, Pheroze Tamboli, Jae Y. Ro, Bogdan A. Czerniak, Steven S. Shen, Charles C. Guo

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16 Scopus citations


Summary Small cell carcinoma of the kidney is distinctively rare. We searched pathology files in 2 institutions and found 14 cases of renal small cell carcinoma. The patients' mean age at diagnosis was 59 years (range, 22-75 years); 8 were women, and 6 were men. Patients usually presented with hematuria (n = 6) and abdominal pain (n = 5). The mean tumor size was 7.1 cm (range, 3.5-14.0 cm). The small cell carcinoma was pure in 9 cases and mixed with high-grade urothelial carcinoma in 5 cases. None was associated with any type of renal cell carcinoma. Tumor necrosis was present in all cases, and lymphovascular invasion was identified in 6 cases. The tumor invaded the perinephric adipose tissue in 13 cases and was confined to the kidney in only 1 case. Lymph node metastases were identified in all patients who underwent lymph node dissection (5/5). On immunostains, the small cell carcinoma cells were positive for pancytokeratin (11/12), chromogranin (6/9), and synaptophysin (8/9). Follow-up data were available for 13 patients, and 11 died of small cell carcinoma at a mean of 15 months (range, 4-31 months) after diagnosis. Of the 2 surviving patients, 1 was alive at 5 months after diagnosis, and the other, whose disease was confined to the kidney, was alive with no evidence of disease at 137 months. In summary, renal small cell carcinoma is a highly aggressive disease that often presents at an advanced stage with widespread metastases. Patients usually have a poor clinical outcome despite multimodal therapy. The frequent coexistence of small cell carcinoma with urothelial carcinoma suggests that renal small cell carcinomas may evolve from a preexisting urothelial carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1792-1798
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Kidney
  • Neuroendocrine differentiation
  • Small cell carcinoma
  • Urothelial carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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